Fairtrade 101

December 05, 2023

Picture from the Fairtrade Canada Banana Gallery

What does "fair trade" mean? The concept of fair trade is rooted in the advocacy for just and ethical treatment of farmers and producers in the global south, guaranteeing them fair wages and equitable revenue for their products. Products that adhere to these principles are marked with the Fairtrade organization's certification, ensuring compliance with standards to guarantee ethical and sustainable products.

Fairtrade International, the non-profit organization that sets and administers the standards, supports 1.8 million farmers and workers across 75 countries in the global south, implementing comprehensive standards in three distinct areas: economic, environmental, and social justice.

One of the economic standards is the minimum price. This minimum price ensures that producers continue to receive fair revenue despite market price fluctuations, offering them stable income. Workers also receive a Fairtrade premium that goes into a co-operative fund, allowing them the flexibility to enhance their livelihoods as they see fit. Additionally, there is a requirement for buyers to provide pre-financing to stabilize cashflows throughout a growing season. These standards empower workers to exert control over their lives and determine their future investments.

Environmental considerations are also integrated, promoting responsible water and waste management, preservation of biodiversity and soil fertility, limited use of pesticides and agrochemicals, and a prohibition on hazardous materials and GMOs. Producers are also taught climate-resilient production methods to cope with the effects of climate change. These standards are important in ensuring sustainable production practices not only for environmental conservation, but also the safety of workers.

Social standards include democratic self-organization, participatory decision-making, transparency, non-discrimination, and the banning of forced and child labour. Fairtrade also encourages women to take on leadership positions and stereotypical “men’s” jobs to promote equality. Additionally, the ownership of the Fairtrade International network is shared, with 50% of farmers and workers participating in the general assembly which allows for producers to meaningfully contribute to decisions regarding their working conditions and livelihoods. These standards ensure that workers are treated fairly and can make meaningful contributions to decisions regarding their working conditions.

In conclusion, Fairtrade isn’t only about strong standards facilitating fair trade but it is also about empowering producers, ensuring a substantial and meaningful impact on their well-being.

To support Fairtrade and workers’ rights, buy products with the Fairtrade International logo when you can, and spread the good word about Fairtrade! Please do your part.